What follows is an excerpt from Evolver.net and Reality Sandwich’s cofounder Daniel Pinchbeck’s book, How Soon Is Now?
We can think about technology as an extension of our biological evolution. We evolved to be able to move through space, manipulate matter and explore the world around us. We use technology to extend our innate abilities in all directions. We augment our ability to move through space and transform matter by building cars, planes, bulldozers, rocket ships and so on. We enhance our thinking capacities through computers, media networks, search engines and the like. As human beings, we continuously seek to explore, to learn, to go further. That is part of our nature.
Even language is a kind of technology. Language originally developed so that human groups could coordinate their actions and intentions. As accidental by-products, the birth of language – the word, or the logos, which was ‘in the beginning’, according to the Bible – gave birth to conceptual thought, poetry, philosophy, culture, complex societies. As a tool-using and tool-making species, we constantly experiment and invent new technologies. These reveal new aspects of our being to us, and lead us to create, and iterate, the next set of tools. Technology and consciousness are so intimately related that they could be considered synonymous.
We currently hover on the brink of manifesting extraordinary as well as frightening possibilities, through science and technology, that may radically transform our species’ capacities. For instance, soon we may be able to extend the human lifespan indefinitely, making people ‘a-mortal’, if not immortal. Scientists are uncovering the mechanisms that cause us to age and learning how to alter them.
As Nature magazine notes, ‘Chromosomes have caps of repetitive DNA called telomeres at their ends. Every time cells divide, their telomeres shorten, which eventually prompts them to stop dividing and die.’ In studies, mice were engineered to lack the telomere enzyme. They aged rapidly. When the telomere enzyme was replaced, they bounced back and de-aged, regaining youth and vitality. This suggests ‘the possibility that normal human aging could be slowed by reawakening the enzyme in cells where it has stopped working’.
Scientists caution that ageing has complex causes. Even if we alter our telomeres, we would still die of cancer and other diseases, eventually.
Yet it is possible that breakthroughs in medicine and biotechnology will be able to address these conditions. We can currently print organs and body parts using 3D printers. Stem cell transplants may allow us to regrow damaged tissue. Our techniques for genetic engineering are also advancing incredibly rapidly.
If we were able to be ‘vaccinated’ against ageing – to have our cells rejuvenated – the vast majority of people would want that opportunity. Given the chance, I will be among them. I often feel life is shorter than it needs to be, and barely gives us time to explore a fraction of our potential. I consider the prospect of life extension as an opportunity to make a leap of species consciousness, towards a psychic realization that, even though the world may wear different disguises, our underlying reality is infinite bliss and ecstasy. After all, even if we lived for a thousand or a million years, it would be meaningless, insignificant, when we consider the billions of years of Universe Time – or the no- time of the Ein Sof.
We can foresee that new capacities – appearing in a period of rapidly increasing resource scarcity, mass species extinction and accelerated warming – will lead to new ethical quandaries, beyond anything we have confronted before. The only way to handle the deepening contradictions of our situation is to develop moral willpower, a core ethos of empathy and responsibility, strengthened through initiatory discipline and inner work. Before humanity can make the jump to any new condition of being, we must address the ecological and social catastrophes we have unleashed on our Earth. We must take care of all of our brothers and sisters who have been consigned to lives of squalor and ignorance, making a commitment to lift them up as equals and love them.
From where we are now, it feels, subjectively, like we have accelerated over the last decades. Things used to move in slow motion, now they are lifting off towards hyper-speed. We live in a science-fiction world that is getting incrementally trippier, with or without drugs. Every indicator suggests the situation will become more intense in the years ahead.
I believe there is an occult or esoteric reality, and this hidden dimension must be acknowledged. We must seek to know it, as much as we possibly can, permeate it with thought, and integrate what we understand into our lives. When we acknowledge the occult dimension, this also must influence our life’s purpose and mission. Occultists tell us that the hidden reality expresses itself through symbols, signs, as well as the procession and pageant of historical events. If this is true, we will learn to interpret our world differently. If reincarnation is an occult fact, then we must change our ideas about the meaning and purpose of any individual life.
According to hermetic philosophy, whatever appears to us as ‘out there’ is, just as much, ‘in here’. The physical universe, the material world, is a projection of the psyche, reflecting our current state of being. If the world is changing so rapidly, this means our inner being is also developing and transforming. Our technology – the technosphere – appears to be a ladder we must build and then climb, to reach what some have called the noosphere, the next level of consciousness.